Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit depends on your state and the decedent’s unique family circumstances. Typically, the decedent’s spouse is most eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Children of the decedent are usually next in line to pursue a financial recovery for a wrongful death.

If the decedent has no spouse or children, the parents of the decedent may pursue legal action for the wrongful death. The law surrounding wrongful deaths can be complicated, and you may be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit even if you are not a spouse, child, or parent of the deceased. In this challenging period you must contact an experienced Augusta wrongful death attorney to make a significant difference in securing justice and financial relief.

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Ask a Lawyer If You Are Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The laws regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit are unique to each state. Anyone with a direct connection to a decedent should ask a wrongful death lawyer whether they are eligible to file a lawsuit. This includes:

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

  • Current spouses
  • Former spouses
  • Biological children
  • Adoptive children
  • Stepchildren
  • Biological parents
  • Adoptive parents
  • Step parents
  • Biological siblings
  • Adoptive siblings
  • Step siblings

While these parties may or may not be eligible to seek compensation for wrongful death, it is worth asking a lawyer about your eligibility.

What Is the Purpose of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

You may have several reasons for pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, which may include:

  • Holding liable parties accountable for their negligence: In many cases, those who cause a wrongful death do not face criminal penalties. Even if parties are criminally liable, surviving loved ones may want to pursue added justice through a wrongful death lawsuit.
  • Covering the direct cost of losing a loved one: You likely have significant economic and non-economic damages because of your loved one’s passing. A wrongful death lawsuit may allow you the resources necessary to cover those losses.
  • Aiding your psychological and emotional recovery: Compensation you receive from a wrongful death lawsuit may help fund counseling, medications, time off from work, and other steps in your recovery.

Wrongful death lawsuits are, for many, the sole way to get justice for a life-changing loss.

Recoverable Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

Your attorney will diagnose the many damages that have resulted from your loved one’s wrongful death, which may include:

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is a key component of every wrongful death case, as survivors may experience:

  • Grief
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lost quality of life
  • Substance-related struggles

Your attorney will also account for any pain and suffering the decedent experienced before their passing. Though any wrongful death can be traumatic, research suggests that sudden death can be especially devastating for survivors.

Mental Health Treatment Costs

Research indicates that a loved one’s wrongful death can exacerbate the symptoms of mental health conditions. You may seek counseling, take medications, or pursue other treatments for grief, depression, and other symptoms. Your attorney will include the cost of treatment in your wrongful death lawsuit.

Lost Financial Support

Lost Financial Support

A wrongful death can leave survivors in a difficult financial situation, as you may lose:

  • The decedent’s income
  • Benefits provided through the decedent’s employer
  • The decedent’s household services (such as handiwork, bookkeeping, and the security of the household)

These kinds of financial losses may affect you throughout your life.

Loss of Consortium

Losing a loved one can mean losing the benefit of:

  • A spouse’s companionship
  • A parent’s guidance
  • The joy and security that parents receive from their children

Your attorney will explain your state’s policies when it comes to recovering compensation for loss of consortium.

Financial Costs Related to the Wrongful Death

You may face several expenses directly related to the wrongful death, including:

  • Funeral costs
  • Burial costs
  • Cremation costs
  • Medical bills

If your loved one passes away after an auto accident, you may face the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle. Your attorney will calculate the cost of your economic and non-economic damages and build your case around those damages.

Should I Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer? Why?

There are several convincing reasons to hire a wrongful death attorney. Consider that:

A Wrongful Death Can Impair Your Ability to Think and Act

Those working through grief are not their usual selves. You may have difficulty thinking, handling rigorous tasks, and dealing with the stress that a wrongful death lawsuit can cause. Having a lawyer lead your case may protect your well-being and help produce a stronger case.

A Lawyer’s Experience and Training Are Valuable

Your wrongful death lawyer will have handled cases like yours. They will also have the legal training necessary to understand the ins and outs of completing a wrongful death lawsuit. Such experience and training may:

  • Enable your lawyer to adapt quickly to the unpredictable challenges of your case
  • Allow your lawyer to avoid unnecessary delays caused by a learning curve
  • Familiarize your lawyer with wrongful death-specific legal strategies

Expressing just how important legal experience is when pursuing a wrongful death case is difficult.

Your Grieving Process Deserves Top Priority

You may recognize that your wrongful death case is important. However, your own psychological and emotional recovery is just as critical.

If you choose to hire a lawyer, you can spend the necessary time working through your grief.

The Stakes of Every Wrongful Death Case Are High

Wrongful death cases are high stakes because:

  • You have suffered the worst kind of loss possible
  • You may be entitled to a large settlement or judgment
  • You likely have one chance to secure fair compensation from liable parties

You owe it to yourself to present the strongest case possible. After considering a lawyer’s training and resources and comparing it to your limitations, you may decide that a lawyer gives you the best chance of securing justice.

What a Wrongful Death Attorney Will Do for You and Your Loved Ones

An attorney will be responsible for your and your loved ones’ financial recoveries.

Obtaining Evidence (Including from Liable Parties)

Evidence is a central feature of a wrongful death lawsuit, so your lawyer will waste no time securing all relevant evidence. Important types of evidence may include:

  • Professional testimony about how someone’s negligence led to your loved one’s death
  • Eyewitness testimony about the fatal event
  • Statements related to the wrongful death (such as a liable party’s admission of wrongdoing)
  • Video footage related to the case

Your attorney may even have a reconstructionist create the event that caused your loved one’s passing. The law firm will cover the upfront cost of any professional services and build these costs into its fee structure.

Identifying Those Liable for Your Loved One’s Death

Your attorney will establish liability for the wrongful death. They will rely on evidence, witness accounts, and professional opinions in determining who is financially responsible for your loved one’s passing.

Calculating and Documenting Your Recoverable Damages

In calculating clients’ case value, wrongful death lawyers must consider:

  • Immediate financial costs
  • Non-economic damages (including pain and suffering)
  • Future damages (of both the economic and non-economic sort)

Your lawyer will develop a complete picture of how the wrongful death has affected you. They will also gather professional opinions, invoices, and other relevant documentation for your case.

Fighting for a Fair Settlement

Fighting for a Fair Settlement

Settling is the most common outcome of civil cases, including wrongful death actions. Your legal team will represent you in settlement negotiations. As part of negotiations, expect your attorney to:

  • Bring all evidence of liable parties’ negligence
  • Demonstrate the damages you have suffered because of the wrongful death
  • Document their settlement calculations in detail
  • Demand that liable parties offer the full amount of compensation you deserve

Attorneys are comfortable in negotiations, which is critical to their job. No matter how difficult negotiations may be, your attorney will stay steadfast to the mission of your financial recovery.

Completing a Trial, if Necessary

Liable parties are not always willing to pay victims fairly for wrongful deaths. Your lawyer will utilize settlement negotiations but may ultimately determine that liable parties aren’t willing to offer a fair settlement.

If your case reaches this point, your lawyer will discuss going to trial with you.

Overseeing Every Other Detail of Your Case

Every detail of your case will be your lawyer’s concern. In addition to the obligations listed here, your lawyer will lead communications, draft paperwork, and facilitate court-related proceedings.

I’m Thinking About Leading My Wrongful Death Case. What Should I Know?

If you are unsure whether to hire a wrongful death lawyer, consider the risk of handling your case. Wrongful death victims who lead their case may:

  • Face a steep learning curve: The legal process is immensely complicated. If you are not a trained attorney, you may face a steep learning curve just to understand what a wrongful death case requires. Then, you face the difficult goal of winning your case.
  • Jeopardize their health: Stress can have a devastating effect on physical and mental health. You may already be fragile after a loved one’s passing. If you try to manage the many obligations of a wrongful death case, your mental and physical health may suffer immensely.
  • Struggle to build a strong case: A strong case must have compelling evidence, thorough documentation of damages, and other elements. You may not have the time or resources to build a strong case independently.
  • Wilt during settlement negotiations: Settlement negotiations can be a particularly stressful step in a wrongful death case. If you are not prepared to negotiate confidently or manage the stress of settlement discussions, this can be devastating to your case’s outcome.
  • Fail to secure the justice they seek: These challenges may prevent you from obtaining the compensation you deserve. This may be the most concise, convincing reason to hire a wrongful death lawyer.

Attorneys offer legal services, financial resources, and other benefits that are highly beneficial to your wrongful death case. Don’t hesitate to accept the help of a qualified, compassionate legal team.

Wrongful Death Lawyers Require No Upfront Fee from You

Your financial status will not prevent you from hiring a wrongful death lawyer. Most attorneys use contingency fees, which mean:

  • The law firm requires you to pay no upfront fees or costs
  • The law firm invests resources (like professional services) into your case
  • The law firm receives a percentage of any settlement or judgment they secure for you

This fee structure can benefit clients immensely. You won’t have to worry about out-of-pocket costs, and you will know your law firm has great financial motivation to win your case.

How to Find Your Wrongful Death Lawyer

You can consider recommendations and online research when seeking a wrongful death lawyer. As you weigh whether a law firm should lead your case, consider the following:

  • Whether the law firm handles many wrongful death cases
  • What case results the law firm has accomplished for its wrongful death clients
  • Reviews from former clients, which may tell you a law firm’s strengths (and weaknesses, if it has any)
  • Any other information you come across when evaluating law firms

You should also interact personally with prospective law firms by completing free consultations.

Take Full Advantage of Free Consultations

Free consultations are a great tool for evaluating wrongful death lawyers. During these no-cost discussions, you can ask the firm’s representative:

  • What experience does the firm have representing victims of wrongful deaths
  • What fee structure does the firm use
  • What lawyer will be leading your case, and what qualifications does that lawyer have
  • Why the law firm is the right choice to lead your wrongful death case
  • Any other questions you want to ask

Law firms come in many sizes, and their qualifications can vary substantially. You should not wait to identify the right law firm but be deliberate in evaluating firms so you can find the right lawyer to lead your case.

Jacque Hawk, Attorney in Augusta
Jacque Hawk, Augusta Wrongful Death Lawyer

Hire Your Wrongful Death Attorney as Soon as Possible

States typically impose specific deadlines for filing wrongful death lawsuits. Act promptly by hiring your attorney as soon as possible to avoid the risk of missing this crucial filing deadline. Timely legal representation ensures that your case is initiated within the stipulated timeframe, safeguarding your ability to seek justice and compensation for the loss you have endured. Don’t delay; take swift action to secure legal assistance and protect your rights in pursuing a wrongful death claim.